The Sizzle Paid Subscriber Survey Results

Thanks so much to the 360 people that filled in The Sizzle’s paid subscriber survey. The feedback has been invaluable and really gave me an insight as to how you find value in The Sizzle.

Half the respondents seem to simply enjoy the cut of my jib and have an interest in tech. They’ve got other tech news sources, but pay for The Sizzle because they like it and like me. How kind of them! The other half love The Sizzle as a way to catch up on tech news without spending a heap of time doing so. It’s more of a transactional relationship than a creative one. Some of you just hang around to get the tech bargains!

Response to the idea of a weekly piece long-form content (approx 1000 words) and a podcast (format still to be determined) has been very strong:

  • ‍37.30% said they’d just stick with the email newsletter at $5/m
  • 34.60% would pay $10/m to get the newsletter & long-form content
  • 22.70% liked the idea of a podcast to join the newsletter and would pay $10/m for that
  • 5.4% said they’d pay $15/m to get the podcast, long form content and the newsletter

If that sample of the audience stays true to their word, that means I’d be making $4,217/month after credit card fees, but before taxes and business expenses. However, 70% of you said that you’d pay $9/m for The Sizzle as is. That’s ~345 subscribers, paying me $8.54/m – $3,168.34 a month. Each approach has it’s pros and cons:

Newsletter, long-form content, podcast

  • I’d enjoy creating the extra content
  • More money
  • Sizzle becomes self-sustaining now, rather than later
  • Publishing content online after paid customers read it can boost SEO

  • ‍Not sure how to lock down podcast to paid subscribers only
  • $5 tier doesn’t offer enough margin for serious marketing
  • All that content could wear me out
  • More complicated to market 3 seperate things to a stranger vs. 1 newsletter

Charge $9/m for newsletter

  • ‍Simple, just change the price
  • No extra work
  • Decent amount of margin to run marketing campaigns
  • Marketing messages remain relatively straightforward

  • ‍High chance of more people quitting than said would
  • Not 100% comfortable increasing the price with no additional stuff
  • Less money vs. other option
  • Still need to do other work to fill income gap whilst subscriber base grows

Right now I’m leaning towards the podcast & long-form content option, rather than simply upping the price. I feel more comfortable doing that and the work, whilst not easy, isn’t exactly a stretch from what I do now anyway. I really miss writing long-form content, so to have that task forced on me will be a great way to exercise that writing muscle. Plus it means I wouldn’t need to rely on affiliate links or freelance work anymore, The Sizzle would be truly self-sustaining right away.

The challenge then becomes how do I change the marketing message of The Sizzle, as it goes from being a relatively easy to describe thing (“daily email newsletter full of tech news with an Aussie slant”), to a three part thing (“daily email newsletter, plus an optional piece of long form content, as well as also optional podcast”). I’m sure it can be done, I’m just not adept of a marketer enough to know how to spin it in a fashion that resonates with people.

I think the approach there would be to keep the marketing simple by promoting the $5/m newsletter, then up-selling the “bonus” items. Kinda like what a car dealership does. Get people in with the nice $19,990 car that you make sweet fuck all money on ($5/m newsletter), then upsell them with window tints (additional $5/m long form), paint protection ($5/m extra for a podcast) and servicing plans (buy the lot for $15/m).

Extend the free trial out to a month so people get comfortable and familiar with not just the newsletter, but the long form articles and podcast episodes, before ripping it away and asking them to pay. But the marketing stays simple – $5/m for tech news with an Aussie slant emailed to you every weekday arvo.

Whilst it’s not locked in, that’s where my heart is leaning towards right now.

On the topic of promotion, heaps of you had some excellent ideas. Here’s a rough overview of the types of things mentioned:

  • ‍Merchandise (mugs, stickers, etc.)
  • Ads (local SaaS companies/job ads/conferences)
  • Infographics (info about a topic that’s summarised in a picture/diagram)
  • Affiliate program (lifetime commission payouts)
  • Corporate rate (site licence for all emails on a certain domain)
  • Raise my profile in the industry (give talks, go on podcasts, get media attention, etc.)
  • Cross promote with other newsletters not necessarily tech related
  • Encourage more sharing on social media
  • Tech item of the month sale (like old school bulk buys)
  • Sizzle supporter section (companies pay $5/m extra to be on a special page of Sizzle supporters)
  • Publish samples to Apple News

The Sizzle’s long term success will be determined by how well I can get new subscribers. Churn is now something I have to worry about and if The Sizzle doesn’t get enough new blood to replace those who will inevitably get sick of me, it’ll die a slow death. Plus, I don’t want to be making ends meet forever, I do have a touch of the capitalist pig inside me after all.

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